The president of the union, actress Fran Drescher, and the chief negotiator, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, declared on Thursday during a crowded press conference in Los Angeles, surrounded by actors, that the strike will only be followed by artists who are affiliated with the collective film and television contract. The strike will only be followed by artists who are affiliated with the collective film and television contract. Picket lines at Netflix, Warner, Paramount, and Disney will begin this Friday starting at 9:00 Pacific time. After four weeks of negotiation and with the employers refusing to budge, it has been agreed to go on strike from midnight [on Thursday in California] to ensure a sustainable future for its members.
The president of the organization asserted in a combative tone that, if we don’t become demanding, we will be in danger of being replaced by machines. “It is a historic moment, it is the moment of truth,” she declared, adding that what is happening here is important because it is happening in all fields of work. She has affirmed that the strike has been the organization’s last resort, but that it is about defending the workers. Drescher, internationally known for her role in the series The Nanny, has expressed her annoyance with the studios at the conference for not reaching agreements.
I believe I can’t work with this industry, the treatment has shocked us, and here we are the victims. Drescher added and argued that we have so many distant positions that I can’t believe it. We are all disappointed with the attitude of the employers and the results of the negotiations. “Until this last moment, in order to avoid this scenario, the main executives of Hollywood spent Tuesday night talking,” Ireland Crabtree-Ireland assured, just like her.
The era of artificial intelligence in which your image is used without your consent, to protect performers, a “groundbreaking” proposal and the biggest increase in 35 years, companies claim to have offered in the document. The studios, grouped in the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (Amptp), have said in a statement that the union “has chosen a path” that will cause financial problems for thousands of people who depend on the industry.
The magnitude of the strike is incalculable. As a point of reference, the 2008 writers’ strike, which lasted three months, had an economic impact of $2.5 billion (€2.226 billion at the current exchange rate), according to official calculations. The filming schedule for series and movies had already been slowed down, if not completely halted, by the ongoing writers’ strike since May. The current productions will be left without staff on the sets due to the actors joining the strike. The strike also prevents performers from promoting their products. It is unknown when (if at all) the Emmy Awards will take place, whose nominees were announced on Wednesday: possible dates are in September (almost ruled out), November, and January.
Based on the January statistics provided by the Motion Picture Association, the audiovisual industry in the United States is responsible for creating 2.4 million job opportunities within the country. Additionally, it generates a staggering $186 billion (equivalent to over 170 billion euros) in wages through approximately 122,000 companies. The ongoing labor dispute, which has intensified today, has been deeply rooted in the collective contract of the actors. They are currently advocating for an increase in the compensation they receive for the subsequent distribution of the productions they have previously participated in (such as DVD sales, rights licensing, and television broadcasts). Furthermore, they are demanding safeguards against the potential impact of artificial intelligence in their field, a concern that also led to the derailment of the agreement with the screenwriters.
On Tuesday, the negotiation between the actors and the studios turned sour when it was leaked that the executives were seeking the intervention of a federal mediator in the final stage of the process without informing the other party. The leaders of SAG-AFTRA were furious about the request, which was leaked to the specialized press. In a statement on Tuesday, the union stated, “The AMPTP has abused our trust and has undermined all the respect we have for the negotiation. We will not be manipulated in this cynical maneuver to obtain an extension when the companies have had more than enough time to propose a fair agreement.”
The majority of unemployed have a lot of free time, not only thousands of anonymous actors but also stars like Jennifer Lawrence, Ben Stiller, and David Duchovny. This week, the industry’s powerful names such as Charlize Theron, Ben Affleck, and Meryl Streep, who have also turned 90 years old, are grouped together. In 1967, Ronald Reagan became the governor of California and prepared for his political career. SAG, the president of which was Reagan, was considered one of the most powerful forces in Hollywood when a joint strike by actors and writers erupted in 1960. The actors have been without a contract since June 30.
In the age of streaming, the guild deems these amounts to be meager. The negotiation of the agreement took place in 2020, amidst the limited flexibility caused by the pandemic; the previous one occurred in 2017, when these platforms did not possess the same level of influence they currently do, thus making this a crucial moment to discuss an increase. Furthermore, the issue was raised regarding the party responsible for bearing the costs of actors’ home-recorded castings that are sent to agencies and studios (a complex and costly process that actors often pay for, often resulting in a financial loss). One of the main focal points was the negotiation of the residuals, which refers to the earnings derived from the sale of rights to films or series in various markets.
Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Paramount, Disney, Sony, Warner, and Universal are among the studios with which the actors have met. The discussions took place simultaneously with the writers’ strike and continued until the final moments of July 12. In the early hours of this Wednesday, the SAG declared that the negotiation did not produce any results. Drescher stated that these had been conducted “in good faith,” but the employers’ proposals had been “offensive and disrespectful” considering the “highly significant contributions to the industry” made by their performers. “Until they negotiate with sincerity, we cannot initiate an agreement. We have no alternative but to proceed together,” he announced during the evening, clarifying that they will present the decision to strike for discussion by their national committee. On June 7, 98% of the union members had voted affirmatively for the strike.
Please let us know if you find a moment to pass it on, in our name, we hope. This moment is our future and our union, the union of screenwriters, we ask you to join us in the strike and use the power we give you. If you are not capable of reaching there, they added, “they demanded in a letter the deserved protection and necessary changes, they affirmed” that the story they are speaking of is not an exaggeration in our eyes, “it was not a moment to take intermediate positions,” the actors claimed, famous faces from television and film, in a letter signed by more than 2,000 people.